Fessing Up about My Phobias

[Trigger alert: this blog post includes discussions of a phobia of mice and a phobia of choking, so please bear that in mind if that might be a trigger for you (and virtual high-five if we share the same phobia!)]

OK, I’m going to start by coming right out and saying it: the idea of writing and posting this particular blog makes me very, very nervous. That’s because I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the past few years worrying that people would find out the truth about my foolish, embarrassing phobias, and I’ve made quite a lot of effort to hide them. And now here I am, about to actually share it all, every ridiculous detail, with anyone in the world with an internet connection and an inclination to read it. It goes so completely against my natural instinct for concealment, for relentlessly maintaining an exterior of “I’m fine,” when sometimes I’m not. But at the same time, I believe this is something I have to do, an obstacle I need to overcome if I’m going to make the kind of progress I want to, and live my most authentic life.  Continue reading “Fessing Up about My Phobias”

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My Grief and My Anxiety

I’ll let you in on something – the last blog I posted, the one on CBT and ACT from May 1, was mostly written by about April 14 (it just needed a bit of polishing and layout work). I was planning to post it sometime the week of the 17th. But during that week of the 17th, I suddenly felt the need to start writing about another subject. That’s because on Saturday, April 15, the day before Easter, I lost my beloved dog Tucker to complications from a brain tumour.  Continue reading “My Grief and My Anxiety”

Anxiety Therapies: How Changing from CBT to ACT Changed Everything for Me

Since I started this blog a few months ago, I’ve been meaning to write about my experiences with two particular kinds of therapy used to treat anxiety disorders. That’s because the first I tried, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular forms of therapy among mental health professionals, and at one time I believed it was the only path to mental health for me. But during the years that I applied the principles of CBT, I ended up with little more than feelings of frustration and failure, and no improvement in my anxiety symptoms. I assumed this was just the inevitable course of my illness, and my only choice was to keep on trying with CBT. I thought I had no other treatment options – until I discovered that there was something else out there: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT has worked for me in a way I’d given up hope any therapy could. And I’m here to tell you, if you’ve tried CBT and it hasn’t helped you, there are other options.
Continue reading “Anxiety Therapies: How Changing from CBT to ACT Changed Everything for Me”

Mental Health Awareness: Calling Out the Crap

I normally enjoy listening to CBC Radio’s “The Current,” a typically intelligent and informative current affairs show broadcast weekday mornings. But this week, they did a story that seriously ticked me off, and really disappointed me. It was presented as a story about PTSD, except it wasn’t a story about PTSD at all. And in doing so, “The Current” and the CBC just furthered the same kind of misinformation about mental illness that we already hear way too much of.

By the time I finished listening to the story, I was starting to imagine a rant in my head that I wanted to be able to say to the producers of “The Current.” When it gets to the point that I’m starting to compose whole speeches in my head, I usually take that as a sign that I should write something down, if only to organize my thoughts and calm myself. As I started writing down some ideas, I felt moved to express those thoughts in some sort of meaningful way. I find myself increasingly drawn to the cause of public awareness about mental health issues, and this felt like an opportunity to try to combat some of the inaccurate messages out there about mental illnesses.  Continue reading “Mental Health Awareness: Calling Out the Crap”

Being a “High Functioning” Person with Mental Illness: Blessing or Curse?

 

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve found that I’ve been hearing several references to “high functioning” people with anxiety disorders. In the examples I heard and read, it was the anxious person themselves who used the term “high functioning,” usually in the context of something like, “I might be high functioning, but I’m still struggling underneath,” and suggesting that being “high functioning” puts them at a disadvantage because people don’t “see” their illness. I actually heard one person use the term “The ‘not sick enough’ stigma.” It got me wondering what calling someone “high functioning” really means, particularly in the case of folks like me who have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  Continue reading “Being a “High Functioning” Person with Mental Illness: Blessing or Curse?”

Redefining Bravery (in a life steeped in anxiety)

Like a lot of folks with anxiety disorders, I have an ongoing monologue in my head pretty much every waking moment (also known as “self-talk), in which I constantly judge myself and the things I’m doing (or have done). Usually I don’t even notice I’m doing it (not consciously at least), it’s just second nature.

Too frequently my inner monologue consists of throwing a lot negative words at myself, words like “weak,” “stupid,” or “loser.” After all, I think, how else could I describe someone whose anxiety issues make it ridiculously hard to do things everybody else just takes for granted, things like grocery shopping, eating with friends, or going down to my basement (there could be mice down there!)? It frustrates me that I have to expend so much energy just doing the things that I consider the bare minimum for normal functioning, things that I feel like I should be able to do with ease. Everybody else does it, why can’t I? Thoughts like these leave me feeling like I’m less than everybody else, and, sometimes, kind of ashamed of myself.  Continue reading “Redefining Bravery (in a life steeped in anxiety)”

My Instant “Therapies”

It sometimes feels like my path of recovery from my Anxiety Disorders is a bit of an unending slog (and in some ways, I suppose that’s what it will be). Most days, I do my best to keep moving forward on that “journey of healing” (as I cornily sometimes call it), which includes things like visiting my psychiatrist, working on the exercises connected to my Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, writing down my insights and struggles, and attending an anxiety/depression support group. Those are the (sometimes-challenging) paths that I’m taking with the hope (and belief) they will lead me towards recovery.

But there are other things that I do from time to time to help me feel better along the way, particularly when I’m feeling low-energy or especially anxious. I wouldn’t necessarily call these “therapy” in the larger sense, but sometimes I just need a little something to help me get through the tough days until I feel well enough to get back to working on my “proper” therapy.  Continue reading “My Instant “Therapies””

The Mental Health Writers’ Guild

mhwgmemberblog2017

I’m really proud to announce that my blog has been admitted to the Mental Health Writers’ Guild. The Guild is a wonderful community of writers and bloggers who write pieces related to mental health and mental well-being. It exists to encourage positive, informative, inspirational writing about mental health, and I’m honoured to be in the company of these amazing, like-minded writers (you should definitely check them all out!). Plus I get to display the Guild’s cool logo on my blog, which you’ll see at the bottom of each of my pages! I feel grateful to be a small part of a really terrific movement, all working towards furthering a greater understanding of mental health issues and reduction of the stigma attached to mental illness.

Movie Characters with Anxiety Disorders (Are There Any?)

When I woke up this morning, the first thing that popped into my head was “It’s Oscar day!” I love movies and I love the Academy Awards, so today is like an unofficial holiday for me, as I count down the hours to the start of the big event. Hype! Dresses! Upset victories! Buzz-worthy moments! I love it all.

As I was musing about all things movie-related this morning, one thought that popped into my head was how rarely I could recall seeing characters with Anxiety Disorders portrayed in movies, especially compared with other mental illnesses. I wasn’t sure if that was fact or just my perception, so I did what I often do to investigate an issue of interest to me: I put together some stats. So off to Wikipedia I went!  Continue reading “Movie Characters with Anxiety Disorders (Are There Any?)”